Huntsville Hospital president ‘thrilled’ to see COVID-19 inpatients drop by half in one month

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Six counties in North Alabama still have a high community transmission level of COVID-19. The other four, including Madison County, are at a substantial risk according to the Alabama Department of Public Health dashboard.

Now that the risk for the Huntsville-area has dropped from high risk to substantial risk, infection and hospitalization numbers continue to drop as well. Even so, the virus threat has not disappeared.

Jeff Birdwell, Huntsville-Madison County EMA Director, Tracy Doughty, Huntsville Hospital President, and Chief Operating Officer, and Dr. Karen Landers, Madison County Health Officer at Alabama Department of Public Health spoke at Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing.

Huntsville-Madison County EMA Director Jeff Birdwell began the meeting with the latest COVID-19 case numbers in Madison County.

Since the pandemic began there have been 815,989 positive cases in the state, with 52,114 cases in Madison County. 694 people have died from COVID-19 in the county, up last week from 676.

Huntsville Hospital President Tracy Doughty says over the past month, the number of COVID-19 in-patients has dropped by about 50 percent.

“This is about half of what it was a month ago, so that is very good news,” said Doughty. “We are thrilled to see these numbers come down. We are prayerful and we are hopeful they will continue to come down.”

Huntsville Hospital now sits at 69 inpatients in Madison County, with 12 of those patients in ICU and 8 on a ventilator. System-wide, there are another 59.

Doughty said the percentage of those in the hospital unvaccinated generally range between 85-90 percent, though it’s a little over 70 percent Wednesday.

“So, we still encourage people to get vaccinated,” he said. “Studies show that you’re 10 times more likely to be in the hospital if you’re unvaccinated and/or die.”

Doughty said the average age in the hospital is 65 and it’s an even split between male and female.

With many hospital across the country requiring vaccines, News 19 asked asked if Huntsville Hospital was looking into a mandate. Doughty said at this point, they have no plans to do so, but if the government makes it mandatory for hospital to require it, they will need to follow suit.

Doughty said as of last week, over 60% of hospital employees were fully vaccinated.

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